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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic but difficult book
The world of "Feersum Endjinn" is incredibly weird. Set in the very far future, the Encroachment threatens the Earth with a new Ice Age and the possible extinction of life on the planet itself. Only the remnants of a civilisation are left on Earth ,with most of the rest of its inhabitants having long since departed for the stars. The society that is left is totally...
Published on 18 Jan. 2006 by L. Davidson

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A demanding read but not rewarded by the ending
I don’t have a happy relationship with cyberpunk or it is more correct to say that, so far, I’ve rarely been able to find books in this sub-genre of science fiction that were congenial to my own mind. I don’t think that is cyberpunk’s fault, which indeed addresses definitely tasty issues, but I imagine that I came across some wrong books...
Published 10 months ago by Anakina


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic but difficult book, 18 Jan. 2006
By 
L. Davidson (Belfast, N.Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Feersum Endjinn (Paperback)
The world of "Feersum Endjinn" is incredibly weird. Set in the very far future, the Encroachment threatens the Earth with a new Ice Age and the possible extinction of life on the planet itself. Only the remnants of a civilisation are left on Earth ,with most of the rest of its inhabitants having long since departed for the stars. The society that is left is totally bizarre; it is organised on feudal lines and most of the people live in a huge castle the size and height of a large mountain range. The inhabitants have developed very strange and alien powers of the mind; they possess implants to provide them with AI and their minds are "shared" in a hierarchical manner , with "The Privileged" being able to access people minds at will.In parallel with the real world, there is a surreal virtual reality world called "The Crypt" which people can access through their mind ; a sort of world data bank that contains all the thoughts and actions of the past , a world into which people can even download their souls for reincarnation after death, often returning as chimerical animals. It is the complex interaction between the real world and The Crypt which makes this book a difficult one to understand and enjoy. Banks makes a lot of demands on the reader as he creates this convincing but radically different future world. A world where Life and the Afterlife , the Spirit and the Material World ,have fused together and created a totally new reality.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ... Indistinguishable from magic, 23 Mar. 2004
This review is from: Feersum Endjinn (Paperback)
In Arthur C. Clarke's famous saying, any sufficiently advanced technology is...
This book tells a tale of a time when the Earth is populated by descendants of those people who were (or chose to be) left behind when technology reached a point which they could no longer cope with. As a result they live in a world which they barely understand, surrounded by the legacy of people using a science way beyond them. Nonetheless, humans being adaptable creatures, they have created a society which just about functions, using the technology they were left, packed with all the usual human virtues and vices, lacking only the faintest idea of why they are where they are. It is only when they discover that their civilisation - and indeed planet - is threatened by something far beyond their abilities that they have to come to terms with what they have lost. Characteristically, they respond in different ways, most of them counterproductive.
The book is told from four viewpoints: a power struggle within the ruling clan, a loser in that power struggle, a boy caught up in the struggle without realising it and a mysterious external factor called an "asura" who despite her initial air of harmlessness is clearly going to be bad news for someone.
Initially the book is hard to get to grips with as these four strands interweave, particularly as the boy speaks/writes a phonetic English which takes hard work and practice to read at a reasonably normal pace. However, as the story starts to gel, the characters and plotting slowly become irresistible and by the end the reader has a real feeling of satisfaction for sticking with it.
This is not as easy to read as some of the Culture novels but in its own way it is every bit as rewarding as, say, The Player Of Games.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book with all the best qualities of a dream, 14 Sept. 2001
This review is from: Feersum Endjinn (Paperback)
Where do you start with such a novel as this one... Before the first chapter ends you have witnessed the birth of an adult (think about it), the assasination of someone who has died seven times already, the beginnings of High Treason against the King, and the abduction of a talking ant called Ergates. It can only be a Banks SF novel. As usual, a happy willingness to suspend disbelief and accept the unexpected rewards the reader with a roller-coaster ride through a microcosmic world, distantly recognisable as being our own many many millenia in the future. Banks throws his own slant on cyberspace and cyborgs as well as demonstrating his dark (and sadly only too true)understanding of human intriguing and politics. As mentioned already in several reviews, the one hurdle placed in ourr way is the phonetic spelling of Bascule's speech. It is tempting to miss out these sections on the first reading as one is too impatient to see what is happening in the other storylines (and anyway - talkin ants are just plain silly, aren't they?) but this destroys the carefully woven grand vision - stick with them and as the man said - "read 'em out loud". Of all IMB's SF novels, this one rewards re-reading again and again, for the plot(s) take you through the first reading far too fast to admire the view. I'm on my sixth re-read - that makes it one of the best value entertainments around!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, surreal, imaginative, 3 Aug. 2007
This review is from: Feersum Endjinn (Paperback)
Once you get used to reading the occassional chapter written phonetically (initialy hard work - i almost gave up after a few pages!), you can lose yourself in the vivid and surreal worlds of this story. I found this to be one of his best works, full of suspence, intrigue, wit and humour.
Highly recommended for those looking for something challenging and different!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who's this banks guy?, 22 Nov. 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Feersum Endjinn (Paperback)
I only bought the book because I'd remembered seeing it advertised a year or more before, and I wanted to settle whether I was seeing adverts for lousy books, or I was missing a great one.
I loved Adams' HitchHiker stories because of their tangential humor and story line. In Feersum Enjinn, Banks manages to twist and turn with a serious plot line. A fantastic book with some hillarious (and some sombre) undertones. But beware - buying is likely to lead to more purchases.
And a word of caution: Some chapters need to be read with an accent...
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars short but twisted, 25 April 2007
This review is from: Feersum Endjinn (Paperback)
I like Iain Bank's sci-fi, especially the twisted and unexpected, where you really have no clue where things are heading - such as this one! Even though to me it does still have the flavour of fairly classic sci-fi about it. It is one of his shorter novels, but still takes a long time to read - the phonetic bits slow you down. Actually I liked that, a gimmick maybe, but it also made it more immersive because it was hard work. It made the switching viewpoints (a standard story telling device) more intense.

For me, this was a "better than average" Banks novel. so, I thoroughly recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great value for money, 7 July 2008
This review is from: Feersum Endjinn (Paperback)
I've read all of Banks other books and this one remains my favourite by a long long way.

Half the fun of this book is working out what's going on and where exactly it's going on which took me a good few chapters at which point I was just hooked by the plot and the wonderful character Bascule and his phonetic spelling which is both highly entertaining and also offers an interesting perspective into the world he guides you through.

If you're the type of reader who prefers to have everything spelt out for you clearly whilst you just sit back for the ride then this is probably not a book you'd enjoy but for everyone else you will find you become quickly absorbed in the plot and eager to see what happens next.

The ending of this book is a highly amusing massive understatement and quite possibly the best ending to any book I've read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not easy, but worth it, 23 Nov. 2006
By 
B. Coppin "ben31415" (Cambridgeshire, UK.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Feersum Endjinn (Paperback)
This is certainly not Banks's most accessible book, in spite of being a relatively short one. The writing style (particularly the use of an invented - and apparently pointless - phonetic language) makes it harder going than most of his others, and the story itself is fairly hard to follow.

It's also not a book for people who like neat endings with all the loose ends tied up. It'll certainly leave you wondering what has happened.

Having said all that, if you enjoy Banks's books, or you like science fiction in general, then this is worth reading. It's certainly well-written, as his books always are, and he's come up with an inventive scenario that is devious and twisty enough to keep you guessing right up to the end.

Overall: a good book, but not a straightforward or easy one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A demanding read but not rewarded by the ending, 28 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Feersum Endjinn (Kindle Edition)
I don’t have a happy relationship with cyberpunk or it is more correct to say that, so far, I’ve rarely been able to find books in this sub-genre of science fiction that were congenial to my own mind. I don’t think that is cyberpunk’s fault, which indeed addresses definitely tasty issues, but I imagine that I came across some wrong books. “Feersum Endjinn” is largely one of them, even if I haven’t completely disliked it.
I won’t talk about the plot in this review, as perhaps the most beautiful thing is to immerse themselves in the universe created by the author without knowing anything and be surprised by the wonders born from his imagination. I prefer to concentrate on how it is written and try to figure out why I didn’t like all of it.
I appreciated the choices made by Banks in the use of narrative techniques, but not quite how he put them into practice. Carrying forward separate plot lines of a story to rejoin them in the end is a challenge. Unfortunately, this prevents from providing the reader with a well-defined protagonist. Each of the main characters of the single plot lines has everything it takes to be appreciated by the reader, but the fragmented way in which they are presented makes the reader lose the special connection that is created between the latter and the protagonist or another main character to which they tend to become attached. This is accentuated by the fact that some of these characters have no depth, are almost evanescent. You have the constant feeling of reading separate stories, almost like different books set in the same universe, but not all at the same quality level. This tends to be confusing, especially at the beginning of the reading, but then things get better, especially if like me you are used to make parallel readings and are able to keep them alive at the same time in your mind.
Another element of difficulty is the choice to tell the story narrated by Bascule, one of these main characters, using phonetic spelling (I’m talking about a quarter of the entire novel). You need to hear his words in your mind to understand them. Surely it is a brave and very original choice. On the practical side, though, since I love to read also to improve the use of language (whether Italian or any other language in which I read) I’ve found it simply annoying and I’m sorry about that, because the character of Bascule is the best narrated throughout the novel, as he tells his story in first person and does so with considerable irony.
Beyond these aspects, as I said, the way in which the story is told wasn’t so bad at all. While reading you begin to see the connections between the various plot lines and a feeling of waiting is created for an ending that promises great revelations.
And here is the main problem. After a series of exciting action scenes all of a sudden you get to the ending that seems to appear from nowhere, without solving anything!
Unfortunately, a good book with an ending that does not work, as far as I’m concerned, stops being good. What a pity.

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, author of Red Desert - Point of No Return
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishingly good, 18 Oct. 2013
This review is from: Feersum Endjinn (Paperback)
Just finished this for the third time.

Hard to know where to begin to describe it, other than to say it's really very, very, very good.

Sure, it makes some demands on the reader- the phonetically written sections take some getting used to, and I remember finding them distracting initially on my first reading. But even then, they left me shaking my head in admiration, and more so with subsequent re-readings. There's no better expression of Banks' love of wordplay and complete mastery of language anywhere in his work. Ultimately these sections are the most powerful in the book: clever, witty, and endearing, making you slow down and appreciate the sentence construction and the strength of Banks' characterisation.

Simulated reality has been done elsewhere in literature and film, but never as well as in this book- it describes a totally convincing multilayered onion of reality while- unlike most of the cyberpunk genre- effortlessly maintaining the humanity of the characters and the narrative drive of the story. All wrapped together with some stunning descriptive passages. The 'base reality' setting of Serehfra is astonishingly realised, with the complexities of the 'crypt' and hints of a re-wilded, depopulated wider world only adding to the richness of the setting.

It's really difficult to find anything written that compares to it- the first half of Arthur C. Clarke's City and the Stars echoes some of the future-societal themes, other than that it's probably film that comes a little closer: the first Matrix trilogy, which came along a few years after the book was written, has obvious parallels. But the world of Feersum Endjinn is much more convincingly realised, and ultimately much more awe inspiring (I'm sure Banks once said the great thing about writing science fiction compared to film was the unlimited special effects budget).

Oh, and it's funny- at times really funny. There's lisping sparrow, for Pete's sake.

And it's tightly written- there's enough packed into here that a lesser author would need at least a trilogy to properly unpack. But Banks manages it more or less effortlessly, without it feeling rushed, and without it losing any warmth, humour, or humanity.

It's the best SF book Banks ever wrote. It's nearly as good as The Bridge. It's desperately sad that we won't be getting more novels like this.
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Feersum Endjinn (Sf Masterworks)
Feersum Endjinn (Sf Masterworks) by Iain M Banks (Hardcover - 1 Jun. 2014)
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